Top Ten Reads of 2019

It’s that time of the year again and we’re nearly into a new decade. It’s crazy isn’t it? New Year’s Eve 2009 only feels like yesterday to me.

Over the last twelve months, these ten reads have really stayed with me, long after I’ve finished reading them, which is why they are included here. This year, so far, I’ve read 131 books, and it has been really hard to pick my top ten.

So without any further ado, here are my top 10 reads of 2019.

10.

The Guilty Party by Mel McGrath.

The Guilty Party: Dive into a dark, gripping and shocking psychological thriller from bestselling author Mel McGrath by [McGrath, Mel]

This is the second book I’ve read by Mel McGrath and I felt it was a masterclass in plotting and suspense. I had no doubt at the time I read it, that it would be in my top ten reads this year. You can read my review by clicking here.

9.

The Whisper Man by Alex North

This was one of my most anticipated reads of 2019 and it didn’t disappoint. Alex North created such a chilling atmosphere in this book. You can read my review by clicking here.

8.

A Window Breaks by C.M. Ewan

A Window Breaks: A family is pushed to breaking point in this addictive, pulse-racing, emotionally-charged thriller by [Ewan, C. M.]

This was a fast and furious read that literally had me turning the pages well into the night. You can read my review by clicking here.

7.

Little Siberia by Antti Tuomainen

This was one of the most unique thriller’s I’ve read this year which is why it thoroughly deserves a place in my top ten. You can read my review by clicking here.

6.

Stone Cold Heart by Caz Frear

Stone Cold Heart: the addictive new thriller from the author of Sweet Little Lies by [Frear, Caz]

I was eagerly anticipating the return of Caz Frear’s detective, Cat Kinsella. Caz’s writing is so addictive and I finished it in just a couple of days. Read my review by clicking here.

5.

Violet by SJI Holliday

Violet by [Holliday, SJI]

This was another book I found to be really original. SJI Holliday takes us across Asia in her latest book and both the settings and the characters, to me, is what made this book stand out. You can read my review by clicking here.

4.

Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver

Nothing Important Happened Today by [Carver, Will]

There isn’t a writer out there, who I have come across, who writes quite like Will Carver. Whatever Will Carver publishes next, I know it’s always going to be straight at the top of my list. You can read my review by clicking here.

3.

The Neighbour proves that Fiona Cummins is a writer at the top of her game. This is her best book to date. You can read my full review by clicking here.

2.

Blood & Sugar by Laura Shepherd-Robinson

This was an absolutely terrific debut which takes us back to a dark time in Britain’s and the world’s history. You can read my full review by clicking here.

1.

Breakers by Doug Johnstone

Breakers by [Johnstone, Doug]

This is a read that will really pull at the heartstrings and it made me feel so tense as I was reading this. This book has remained my favourite read of the year. You can read my review by clicking here.

 

And that’s a wrap for another year.

I hope you have a great Christmas and a great 2020 filled with brilliant books!

Violet by SJI Holliday #bookreview blog tour @SJIHolliday @OrendaBooks @annecater

I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for Violet by SJI Holliday. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

Violet by [Holliday, SJI]

BLURB

Carrie’s best friend has an accident and can no longer make the round-the-world trip they’d planned together, so Carrie decides to go it alone.

Violet is also travelling alone, after splitting up with her boyfriend in Thailand. She is also desperate for a ticket on the Trans-Siberian Express, but there is nothing available.

When the two women meet in a Beijing Hotel, Carrie makes the impulsive decision to invite Violet to take her best friend’s place.

Thrown together in a strange country, and the cramped cabin of the train, the women soon form a bond. But as the journey continues, through Mongolia and into Russia, things start to unravel – because one of these women is not who she claims to be…

A tense and twisted psychological thriller about obsession, manipulation and toxic friendships, Violet also reminds us that there’s a reason why mother told us not to talk to strangers…

MY THOUGHTS

SJI Holliday takes us across continents in her latest novel, beginning our journey in Bangkok, which is where we first meet our protagonist, the enigmatic Violet. Violet is still reminiscing over her break-up with her boyfriend, Sam, and when she misses the last train due to take her to her next destination, she strikes up a conversation with the buoyant, Carrie, who quickly takes Violet under her wing. The two girls become close and take the next stages of their journey across Asia together. But their friendship soon begins to turn sour, and Carrie begins to realise that Violet may not be the person who she thinks she is.

SJI Holliday’s latest book, Violet, is deliciously dark. There was something about Violet and Carrie’s friendship in the very early chapters that just drew me into the story. I wanted to know how things were going to pan out for them. Everything at the beginning seems so perfect, but there is that underlying sense of darkness which makes you think that something terrible is going to happen between the two girls. I wanted to know what, if any, secrets they were hiding.

Carrie is a very wild character who stands out next to Violet. At first, Violet appears shy and just happy to tag along. But as Violet’s character develops, we begin to see a different person begin to emerge, someone who is more confident and intriguing. This is why I found her so fascinating. I could never quite pin her down, and this is what makes her very mysterious.

I loved the settings. Through SJI Holliday’s writing, I felt as though I had travelled to parts of the world which I have never visited before, including Thailand, Mongolia and Russia. This, for me, is what made this book stand out and made it feel very unique. Reading this book will probably make me think twice about starting up a conversation with a stranger in the future if such a situation ever arises.

This is a book which can very easily be read in one sitting, and I devoured it in just a couple. The short chapters keep the pace flying forward. It’s quite different to SJI Holliday’s previous book, The Lingering, which I also enjoyed but I think, Violet is even better.

Violet is highly engrossing and really well written. If you haven’t read a book by SJI Holliday before, then you don’t want to be missing out. Fantastic stuff.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 14th September 2019 (kindle) 14th November 2019 (paperback)

Print length: 276 pages

If you would like to purchase Violet, you can do so by clicking on one of the following links below.

Amazon UK  Kobo  Waterstones

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violet 2019

#TheLingering by S.J.I. Holliday blog tour #giveaway @OrendaBooks @SJIHolliday

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for The Lingering today, a very creepy ghost story by SJI Holliday, perfect to read at this time of year when the nights are drawing in. I feel I should warn you though, it may put you off having baths in the future. As part of the blog tour, I have one paperback copy of the book to giveaway. To enter, all you have to do is share this post on Facebook and Twitter, and let me know how much you want to read this book by commenting below, before midnight on Thursday, 15th November 2018. One winner will be drawn at random. If you’re interested in taking a look at what the novel is about, you can read the blurb and my review below. Good luck!

The Lingering by [Holliday, SJI]

BLURB

Married couple Jack and Ali Gardiner move to a self-sufficient commune in the English Fens, desperate for fresh start. The local village is known for the witches who once resided there and Rosalind House, where the commune has been established, is a former psychiatric home, with a disturbing history.
When Jack and Ali arrive, a chain of unexpected and unexplained events is set off, and it becomes clear that they are not all that they seem. As the residents become twitchy, and the villagers suspicious, events from the past come back to haunt them, and someone is seeking retribution…
At once an unnerving locked-room mystery, a chilling thriller and a dark and superbly wrought ghost story, The Lingering is an exceptionally plotted, terrifying and tantalisingly twisted novel by one of the most exciting authors in the genre.

MY THOUGHTS

Recently I’ve read a couple of really good ghost stories and The Lingering by SJI Holliday I think has to be the best. I was so excited to pick up a proof at the Theakston Crime Festival in Harrogate, and I wasted no time in starting it. Dark, unsettling and so, so creepy; this book and the characters within the pages will stay with you long after you have finished reading.

What I love about SJI Holliday’s writing is how she cleverly manages to weave a tale and take it in a completely unexpected direction and especially her character development is brilliant. She is a writer who is very good at her twists, and her plotting is superb.

I’ve previously read and enjoyed her Banktoun trilogy so I had high hopes for her latest book and I was captivated from the first page. We meet married couple Jack and Ali who are starting a new chapter in their lives together when they decide to sell up their home and take up residence at a self-sufficient commune. I wanted to know what had drawn them to this particular place and why they would make such a huge decision and leave the comfort of home for something that is totally different to what they’re used to. The prologue in this book teases you as you immediately get a feeling that something dark and mysterious is brooding and it sets up the journey that Ali and Jack are about to embark on. You know you are in for a spine-chilling read.

SJI Holliday weaves a crime element into her plot, and this was done to great effect. But I’m not going to talk any more about this here, you’ll have to read the book yourself to find out what happens. The atmosphere in the book is excellent, and it brings the commune and the surrounding countryside to life. If I ever see a building remotely similar to the commune whenever I’m driving around country lanes, I think I’ll be speeding up and keeping very clear.

The Lingering is dark and atmospheric; it will linger in your mind and beware, it may give you nightmares. It is psychological suspense at its very best. You really don’t want to miss it. Thank you to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 27th September 2018

Print length: 320 pages

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE

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Lingering blog poster 2018 (1) (1)

 

The Lingering by SJI Holliday Book Review @SJIHolliday @OrendaBooks

The Lingering by [Holliday, SJI]

Source: Review Copy

BLURB

Married couple Jack and Ali Gardiner move to a self-sufficient commune in the English Fens, desperate for fresh start. The local village is known for the witches who once resided there and Rosalind House, where the commune has been established, is a former psychiatric home, with a disturbing history.

When Jack and Ali arrive, a chain of unexpected and unexplained events is set off, and it becomes clear that they are not all that they seem. As the residents become twitchy, and the villagers suspicious, events from the past come back to haunt them, and someone is seeking retribution…

At once an unnerving locked-room mystery, a chilling thriller and a dark and superbly wrought ghost story, The Lingering is an exceptionally plotted, terrifying and tantalisingly twisted novel by one of the most exciting authors in the genre.

MY THOUGHTS

Recently I’ve read a couple of really good ghost stories and The Lingering by SJI Holliday I think has to be the best. I was so excited to pick up a proof at the Theakston Crime Festival in Harrogate, and I wasted no time in starting it. Dark, unsettling and so, so creepy; this book and the characters within the pages will stay with you long after you have finished reading.

What I love about SJI Holliday’s writing is how she cleverly manages to weave a tale and take it in a completely unexpected direction and especially her character development is brilliant. She is a writer who is very good at her twists, and her plotting is superb.

I’ve previously read and enjoyed her Banktoun trilogy so I had high hopes for her latest book and I was captivated from the first page. We meet married couple Jack and Ali who are starting a new chapter in their lives together when they decide to sell up their home and take up residence at a self-sufficient commune. I wanted to know what had drawn them to this particular place and why they would make such a huge decision and leave the comfort of home for something that is totally different to what they’re used to. The prologue in this book teases you as you immediately get a feeling that something dark and mysterious is brooding and it sets up the journey that Ali and Jack are about to embark on. You know you are in for a spine-chilling read.

SJI Holliday weaves a crime element into her plot, and this was done to great effect. But I’m not going to talk any more about this here, you’ll have to read the book yourself to find out what happens. The atmosphere in the book is excellent, and it brings the commune and the surrounding countryside to life. If I ever see a building remotely similar to the commune whenever I’m driving around country lanes, I think I’ll be speeding up and keeping very clear.

The Lingering is dark and atmospheric; it will linger in your mind and beware, it may give you nightmares. It is psychological suspense at its very best. The book is available to pre-order by clicking the link below. You really don’t want to miss it.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 15th September 2018 (Ebook) 15th November 2018 (paperback)

Print length: 300 pages

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE